It would seem that when it rains it pours for Ngamiland cattle farmers – after a few weeks of being hit by fresh Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak in September, they now have to contend with a possible anthrax infection to their cattle. Anthrax has been detected in dead hippos floating in the Okavango River after a number of them were suspected to have been killed by the disease in neighboring Namibia. “Fortunately, we have been able to contain the disease so far. We continue to remove the dead infected animals and bury them immediately to avoid a contact with either human beings or animals,” said the Director of Veterinary Services, Dr Letlhogile Modisa. According to Dr Modisa, Anthrax is a very dangerous disease which can affect both human beings and animals including cattle. He said that although they have not detected any signs of infection in animals (cattle) in Botswana his department is not taking any chances and has since halted cattle slaughter and movement in areas along the Okavango River and have also started administering Anthrax preventative vaccine to cattle. “People in affected areas have been advised to source beef from surrounding areas within Ngamiland until further notice,” he said. Meanwhile Dr Modisa also stated that the Department of Veterinary Services was working around the clock to restore back to normal the slaughter and movement of cattle within and outside Ngamiland area after a moratorium ban was imposed following a suspected FMD outbreak at Namanyane crush in the Sehithwa extension area recently. This came about following reports from farmers of sighting cattle that were showing suspicious signs in the area .Officials from the department are said to have followed up the allegations and found five animals that were showing signs that are consistent with disease. The Department immediately suspended the slaughter and movement of all cloven hoofed animals and their fresh products within and outside of Ngamiland district.
However, following the suspected outbreak of anthrax in Mohembo area, Zone 2a, the department of Veterinary services has made several changes to the movement protocol of cloven hoofed animals and their products again. The department continues to disallow movement of cloven-hoofed animals into the district but allows their fresh products with a movement permit sealed containers/trucks. They also allow movement of fresh products from animals that have undergone quarantining and have successfully undergone deboning and maturation in licensed facilities to be taken outside the district. Movement of all anthrax susceptible animals (cattle, sheep, goats and horses and wildlife) is NOT allowed into, within and out of Zone 2a. Movement of cloven-hoofed animals out of Zones 2b, 2c and 2e is allowed with a veterinary movement permit directly for slaughter or to quarantine and no trekking of animals between crushes or zones is allowed. According to a press statement from the department, movement of cattle will be through electronic permit only and movement of fresh products into Zone 16 is allowed with a permit while slaughter for social events such as weddings and funerals is allowed in the entire district but the meat has to be consumed locally or otherwise has to be cooked to be moved within the subzone. “We are trying as much as possible to bring life back to normal in the district,” Dr Modisa said.